Published on : Monday, February 18, 2019
Southwest Airlines is one step closer to launching flights to Hawaii. Following the successful completion of tabletop exercises, the final hurdle for the airline to overcome is ETOPS validation flights. Once these are completed, Southwest will have the certifications required to add Hawaii to their network of flights.
Many passengers are eagerly anticipating the commencement of services to Hawaii by Southwest. However, these were pushed back after the US government shutdown placed a temporary halt on proceedings. It was originally anticipated that services would’ve started by now.
The final hurdle standing in the way of Southwest Airlines is validation flights. Validation flights are when the airline flies members of the FAA onboard non-passenger services. The purpose of these services is to ensure that Southwest meets the regulations set out by the Federal Aviation Administration regarding long-distance flights.
Once these exercises are satisfactorily completed, then Southwest Airlines will receive what is known as ETOPS certification. ETOPS certification essentially means that two-engined aircraft are able to fly further on one engine. This means that routes can be planned further from a diversion airport. This is needed as there are not sufficient diversion options between the US mainland and Hawaii.
Southwest Airlines today told Simple Flying that they have no updates on the status of the ETOPS validation program. The last Southwest told Simple Flying was that tabletop exercises and Validation flights are needed. We know that Southwest has completed the tabletop exercises.
This leaves validation flights. Simple Flying can see that these are taking place. So far a regular flight was operated on Thursday. On Saturday Southwest operated a flight which was diverted to another Hawaiian Island before continuing on to Honolulu. This was a likely a simulated diversion prompted by the FAA personnel.